This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 751 words.
Edgar Lexham was cutting the extensive grass at the front of his house as the police car stopped across his driveway. When he saw the officer walking in his direction, he turned off the noisy petrol engine of the mower. “Can I help you, officer?” The policeman consulted his notebook. “Does an Adrian Lexham live here, sir? It is shown as his address on the registration of a green Consul Cortina car”. Edgar nodded. “He’s my son, so this is his home address, but he is currently touring France and Spain in that car. Is something wrong? You had better come inside”.
Declining the offer of a cup of tea and a seat in a comfortable armchair, the policeman remained standing. “We have had a report from the police in Switzerland, sir. It appears that this car was left parked close to the main railway station at Geneva”. He looked at his notes again. “The station is called Cornavin, and the car was towed away for being illegally parked. Strangely, the keys were in the ignition, and the Swiss police found a map and some travellers cheques on the floor inside. This information is a couple of days old, but they want to know what to do about the car. Do you have any idea how you might contact your son, sir?”
“I have no idea where he might be. To be honest, we had words before he left. He turned down a perfectly good job, bought that car, and said he was going travelling in Europe for a year, starting in France and Spain. He didn’t tell me where, specifically. Did the Swiss police check the hotels in the area? The car might well have broken down, leaving him no option but to book into a hotel”. The policeman shrugged. “There wasn’t a lot of detail, sir. They mainly want to know about when the car is going to be collected. Apparently, there is a substantial fine to pay, and a bill for towing and storage”.
Shaking his head, Edgar leaned forward in his chair. “It looks like I am going to have to pay up, doesn’t it? How the hell I am supposed to get a car back from Switzerland, I don’t know, but if you have the contact details, I will phone them and arrange something. At least I can pay the fine and fees”. The policeman closed his notebook after reading out the details for Edgar to write down. “I will leave it with you then sir, good day to you”.
In a seedy hotel room in the even seedier district of Sankt Pauli, Sally was counting the remaining money. She should have known better than to trust Julien. He had only hung around for one night after they had arrived in Hamburg. When he had driven the car across the Swiss border to Geneva, it had seemed like a good idea. Then he said they had to get a train to Paris, before transferring onto a train to Germany. He claimed he knew Hamburg well, and they could disappear there. He had booked and paid for the room in the awful hotel, where the other guests all seemed to be prostitutes. Then the next day, he was gone, taking most of Adrian’s French Francs that they hadn’t changed up yet.
She didn’t even know his surname.
For once in her life, Sally Brooks was completely out of her depth. She had less than seventy pounds to her name, and for all she knew, she might be wanted by the police. One thing was for sure, Adrian could never have survived that fall.
Her best guess was that Julien had got on a ship. Maybe back to Canada, but he could have gone anywhere. That huge port city was an international shipping destination, and a big man like him could easily have signed on to do some manual job on board a cargo vessel.
Adrian’s body showed up in the lake at Doucier exactly one week after he had fallen from the rocks. The fast flowing stream had washed it into the lake that night, but into an area where few tourists or locals ever ventured. A recent rainstorm had raised the level of the water, and his battered, floating corpse was spotted by someone flying low in a private aircraft.
When Edgar Lexham saw the police car stop outside his house that evening, he wondered why. After all, he had arranged to pay the fine and fees.